Speech at inaugural exhibit of the Human Rights Painting Project AFL-CIO Headquarters, Washington D.C., April 9, 2002

Speech at inaugural exhibit of the Human Rights Painting Project
AFL-CIO Headquarters, Washington D.C., April 9, 2002

I would like to thank President Sweeney and the AFL-CIO for being such gracious hosts for this, the inaugural exhibition of the Human Rights Painting Project.

I would also like to thank my local Amnesty group -- #297 in Takoma Park, Maryland - for their help in putting this show together. Members of local Amnesty chapters are an unseen impetus behind the never-ending struggle for basic civil liberties.

I created the Human Rights Painting Project to dramatize what happens when people with tremendous faith in Truth and Good come face to face with harsh reality.

As I've painted these figures over the past few years, living with some of the individuals for months, I have at times been overwhelmed by sadness - distressed at our ability to mistreat persons due to their principles. But even more than this sorrow, I have grown increasingly impressed not only by these people's fortitude, but also by their importance - for all of us.

As I worked on this project, I came to realize that I take for granted the ideals of Good and Justice, assuming their existence. Nonetheless, Good and Justice are only ideas, at least until people like those featured here bring them to life.

It is my goal that these paintings touch you and convey a sense of these individuals' determination and sacrifice. I hope to raise awareness of how their unyielding conviction makes justice a reality for all of us. Thank you.